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The Eleventh Commandment
By LUTISHIA LOVELY
DAFINA BOOKSCopyright © 2013 Lutishia Lovely
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFriendships and Fatherhood
"Ooh, yeah, just like that, just like that!" Frieda Moore-Livingston cooed as expert hands moved up and down her bare back, across her shoulders and back down ... kneading, rubbing, before coming to that sensitive dimpled spot just above her juicy assets. "That ... feels ... so ... good." "Oohs" and "aahs" surrounded each word that oozed from her lips. Strong, lean fingers continued down her thighs, paying special attention to the calves and feet before heading back the way they'd come, lingering at the small of her back, switching to feather-light strokes as they splayed across her shoulders and along the nape of her neck. Frieda felt as though she'd have an orgasm right on the spot. It had taken her a while to understand the hype. But now she was a true believer: there was nothing better than an afternoon massage.
"We're done, pretty lady." Tyson, the masseur to the stars and to those with star quality (translated, plenty of cash), tapped Frieda lightly on the shoulder to signal the end of their session. "See you next week?"
"Of course, baby," Frieda said, turning over and getting off the table, shamelessly letting the towel fall on the floor. More than once Tyson had suggested she wait until he leave to begin dressing, but Frieda had other plans. Often, she'd wondered how it would be to have other body parts massaged during these sessions, but so far her not-too-subtle hints had only been met with a patient smile. The first assumption had been that he was gay. After all, who would turn down what Frieda called "pussy on a platter"? But her friend Stacy's baby daddy, Darius, had told her that Tyson didn't get down in that club and since the platinum-selling R & B singing sensation was patently homosexual and very much a part of that world, Frieda thought that he would know. If not for the fact that she was now headed to a thick link of sausage not far from her old stomping grounds, she might have been insulted. As it were, she simply laughed as Tyson quickly averted his eyes and left the room.
Moments later, Frieda clicked the locks on her shiny new Lexus LX and slid inside. Ever since she'd purchased the pearl wonder with light tan seats, she'd given to wearing outfits and/or accessories in the same color, often finished off with Louboutin pumps and pearl-colored Gucci shades. Frieda's picture could have appeared next to the word materialistic, but she didn't mind. She'd learned how in LA image was everything. She had faked it until she made it and snagged a doctor in the process. Thinking of Gabriel, the hardworking husband and sponsor of the designer duds she wore, caused a tiny tinge of guilt as she turned down Martin Luther King Boulevard and headed toward where she used to live. Passing row after row of modest apartments much like the one she'd rented upon arrival from Kansas City, she reflected on her journey from then till now, and how far she'd come in less than five years. When she'd left the Midwest and a drug-slinging boyfriend to join her cousin and best friend, Hope Taylor, in the City of Angels, all she'd hoped for was a good time. And now here she was a wife and mother, living in a tony Westside neighborhood amid five-thousand square feet of luxury, a bank account courtesy of her husband that never boasted less than five figures, credit cards with no limits, a chef, a maid, and a nanny/house manager. Sometimes she had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming. And sometimes she had to do what she was doing now.... go slumming for something that money couldn't buy—a thick piece of sausage.
"Get in here, girl," a tall brothah said as he opened his apartment door. His island accent was as sexy as his long thick locks, his ebony skin, his straight white teeth, and his washboard abs. "You know me don't like to wait for ya."
Frieda was nonplussed as she threw her purse on the couch. She kept silent as she unzipped the front zipper on her pearl-colored mini and let it fall to the floor. Her cell phone vibrated, but she ignored it as she reached behind her and unclasped her bra. The youngblood's eyes narrowed, and he licked his lips. That's right, she thought. This caramel goodness is worth the wait, isn't it? Her nanny/house manager's son, Clark, could say whatever he wanted just as long as he did what she told him to. And he did. Long and hard. Every single time. "Stop sulking and get over here," she said, looking fierce while wearing nothing but a wispy thong, five-inch pumps, and a smile. "And show Mami how much you've missed me since I've been gone."
Two hours later a totally satiated and satisfied Frieda left the hood and headed back toward the Westside, and her appointment at the spa. The man was a beast, and she needed professional help to wipe the just-been-sexed-to-within-an-inch-of-my-life look off her face and body. It would be the last appointment of the day before heading home to a quiet evening, probably alone. Even though it was likely that Gabriel would work well into the night, Frieda always scheduled a spa visit after her romps with Clark. She never wanted to make her husband suspicious and had learned early on that the astute doctor didn't miss much. No, tonight she was not in the mood for a lecture on what he sometimes called "behavior inappropriate for a doctor's wife." There was already enough on her mind. Like Clark, and how she was going to continue to have her cake and eat it too.
Her phone rang and as she looked at the dash, she again felt a twinge of guilt. The last thing in the world she ever thought would happen was that she'd go soft. The old Frieda wouldn't have given two hoots about what anybody else thought or felt. Undoubtedly her cousin would attribute it to the Holy Spirit that Hope swore never left Frieda's side. I hope that Brothah took a break just now. Otherwise, He got an eyeful! Frieda thought it was less likely divine intervention and more probably motherhood that had unearthed the heart she'd buried during her teenage years, fending for herself on Prospect Avenue, perhaps dug up by the three-year-old who had both his parents wrapped around his finger. Or maybe it's you, she thought, reaching to connect the call. She could honestly say she loved the somewhat stodgy, somewhat geeky doctor whose work was his passion. Even though he bored her to tears.
"Hello." Frieda turned down the sounds blasting from her speakers as she spoke.
"Where are you?" Gabriel Livingston's voice was just short of curt. "I've called you three times."
Just then Frieda remembered that her phone had vibrated earlier, when she'd been so focused on ... well ... various types of massages, and she'd forgotten to turn it back on. "I've been out running errands," she said, the beginning of an attitude creeping into her voice. Having basically been on her own since she was fifteen years old, she wasn't too used to having to report her whereabouts.
"Cordella said you've been gone for hours."
That nosy nanny needs to mind her own business! Frieda made a mental note to speak to her at the next opportunity. Sistah-girl wouldn't get fired as long as her tenderoni son was handling that pipe like he did, but his mama was definitely going to have to put her mouth on lock. "After my workout I went to get my weekly massage, then went shopping"—screwing but hey, they both have eight letters and start with an S—"so yeah, I guess I've been gone for a while."
"You can't keep doing this, Frieda. Spending your afternoons gallivanting while Cordella watches our child. In the two years that she's worked for us, I'm beginning to think Gabe considers the nanny his mom."
"Did you call to make me feel bad about taking care of myself?"
Gabriel's exasperated huff came through the phone. "I called to tell you about a dinner engagement tonight with a prominent couple from DC. An unexpected change of plans has them here for the evening, time enough to make an impression that will hopefully result in a large donation for the new oncology ward." He told her the name of the restaurant. "Reservations are at eight."
"Looks like it's a good thing I'm on my way to the spa," Frieda purred. "So I can look good and help impress your guests."
By the time the call ended, Frieda knew that she'd flipped the frown that had undoubtedly marked Gabriel's face when the call began. She turned up the music again as she thought about how opposite she was from Gabriel in so many ways, and how her vibrant personality was what had drawn him to her like a hummingbird to sugar water. He was often exasperated with her, but a witty quip, flirty phrase, or naughty innuendo could usually brighten his mood. He's so easy to manipulate. And when it came to fathers, there were none better. That heart that Frieda liked to ignore constricted a bit. She really did love Gabriel. He'd do anything for her, and even more for his namesake, the namesake that every day was looking less and less like the good doctor and more and more like one of the men Frieda used to know.
Chapter TwoThe Ex Factor
It was a picture-perfect evening in La Jolla, California, an upscale suburb of San Diego. Cy and Hope Taylor sat on their ocean-front patio, sipping wine and enjoying a sunset that was painted by God. The chilled wine they'd uncorked was a rare vintage that Cy had procured on a recent trip to Italy, vino that Hope had unashamedly poured into sensibly priced crystal wineglasses purchased at a discount chain. God had blessed her with the good life, a life beyond her wildest dreams. But she wasn't bougie. A no-nonsense mother, matter-of-fact father, and an upbringing in a tight-knit Baptist church community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had planted her designer-clad feet firmly on the ground. "Don't get so high that you can't see low," her mother had told her on more than one occasion, like after church when mothers fawned over a song she'd sung or a dance she'd choreographed. Or when the teachers commented on the well-mannered pretty girl with big brown eyes, thick braids, and good grades, Pat would remind Hope that God had given her the ability to have those things, that they'd not been achieved simply through actions of her own. Even now, this down-to-earth mother was in La Jolla, passing down that same wisdom to Cy and Hope's four-year-old twins, Camon and Acacia. Hope and Cy relished the quiet time, and each other.
"It's been a while since we've done this, huh?" Cy reached over and took his wife's hand in his, held it up to kiss the back of it.
"The world is so quiet when they are gone; I almost can't remember what life was like without them. For years, I thought I'd never have children. I'm thankful for them every day." She leaned over and kissed her husband on the cheek, still reveling in his star good looks after six years of marriage. His tall stature, dark caramel skin, soft curly hair, and cocoa eyes framed by ridiculously long lashes never ceased to make her heart skip a beat and her panties grow wet. Cy Taylor had been one heck of a catch, another blessing that was above and beyond what she ever dared dream.
Cy turned and took the chaste kiss Hope had intended to another level, brushing his lips across hers before running his tongue across the opening of her mouth, and when she complied, slipping it inside. The headiness of their love matched the potency of the wine and within seconds, the lovebirds were caught up in a dance they'd perfected over time: lips touching, tongues twirling, hearts beating as one. He looked up through desire-darkened eyes and gazed upon the woman he loved—her chocolate skin, big doe eyes, and thick lips parted with wanting.
"Let's go inside." The insistency in Cy's voice hinted of a desire to take her here, now, on the smooth slate stones of the patio.
"Mama will be back with the kids anytime," Hope replied. At Cy's sigh, she smiled. Their lovemaking schedule was forever changed when the kids came, and getting it in where fitting it in had taken on a whole new meaning. "I know, me too," she finished, with a final peck on his lips before sitting up, reaching for her wineglass, and taking a cooling swallow. "Don't worry. I'll take care of all of that"—Hope gestured at his obvious erection—"later tonight."
"All right." Cy stretched his long legs in front of him to offer a bit of relief to the long leg in the middle. "Best to change the subject then. Otherwise, Mom Pat will walk into a situation best not seen by mothers-in-law."
"Not to mention our children."
"Remember that time—"
"The twins coming in the room ..."
"Standing at the end of the bed—"
"Eyes wide, wondering ..."
"And then little Camon pipes up, 'What y'all doin'?'"
Cy was really laughing, doubling over in his seat. "I look down and all I see are two sets of eyes barely able to peer over the mattress."
"And my response to their question—'We're just playing.'"
"Good thing I was riding it low and slow, instead of punching you like a time clock with your legs thrown over my shoulders."
"Not exactly our idea of a teachable moment, huh?"
"No, baby. Not especially." They were silent a moment, both reflecting on what had been one of the funniest incidents of their parenthood. "You know what, baby? I had no idea how much having children would change our household, or being a father would change my life."
Headlights coming up their quarter-mile-long drive signaled the end of the couple's alone time and Pat's return with the twins from their outing. As they left the patio, Hope looked at Cy, noting the look of contentment on his face. It mirrored her own. For years, more than a decade, she'd prayed (cried, begged, bargained) for a husband and children. It had been her singular goal for most of her adulthood. And here she was, living out the answer to that prayer. Thank you, God. Thank you for everything that I have, and all that I am. Thank you for my family, my parents, my friends. Bless those whose prayers you have yet to answer, Lord. Bless them with the desires of their heart, the same way you've done for me. Amen.
On the other side of the country, in a beautifully restored brownstone in the Edgecombe area of Harlem, New York, another woman had just finished a prayer. She was still reeling from news received a month before, news that had caused her to take stock of her life. Highlight accomplishments, acknowledge regrets. The latter was why she'd just typed an e-mail to a man she'd not recently seen but had never forgotten, the first and only man she'd ever truly loved. Reading the letter one more time, hoping that it contained the right mix of casualness and desire, her finger hovered uncertainly over the button before she finally pushed SEND.
Okay, God. I've done what I can do. What happens at this point is up to You ... and Cy Taylor.
Chapter ThreeSistah-Girls, Sistah-Chats
The next morning, Hope bounded out of bed at seven a.m., wanting to be ready when her personal trainer, Yvette, arrived. The popular LA trainer, who came at a hefty one-fifty an hour, had proved herself well worth the payment; Hope was smaller than she'd been before getting pregnant, actually in the best shape of her life. Yvette combined several popular training modules—Pilates, aerobics, Zumba—along with her own brand of stretch and cardio. She achieved in forty minutes the same results that usually required sixty to ninety minutes of working out. The routine was grueling, fast paced, relentless, and aside from time spent with her husband and/or children, the absolute best time of Hope's day. She donned workout gear and then walked over to the other side of the second floor to check on the twins. Satisfied that they slept soundly, she walked downstairs and into the kitchen for a bottle of water, smiling as she spotted a note on the fridge.
Baby, I hope your workout this morning is half as good as the one we gave each other last night. Have I told you lately that you're amazing? Hope these meetings go quickly. I already miss you. Cy.
"I miss you too, baby," Hope murmured, as she ran her hand over the note. It was a habit they'd started in the early days of their marriage, leaving each other notes in various parts of the house, but most often on the kitchen fridge. Even with the popularity of texting, e-mails, and the old school phone call, there was nothing quite like seeing pen having been put to paper, hearts hastily drawn, or an "I love you" scrawled in Cy's bold handwriting. Bold. Strong. Yes, that's my baby. She remembered how well he'd sexed her last night and then again this morning before leaving on his New York business trip. During the downturn in the nation's economy and the subsequent falling real estate prices, Cy had greatly expanded his company's portfolio, picking up several prime pieces of land and property from the eastern seaboard all the way down to the Florida Keys. He and one of his newest business partners, Jack Kirtz, had also secured property outside the United States, including ocean-front property in South Africa on which they'd built a sanctuary for children orphaned as a result of war and disease. The simple yet sturdy housing complex was comprised of one-thousand units and included a school, gym, playground, general store, and medical facility. It was one of Cy's proudest achievements and since she and Jack's wife had been a part of the planning process, it was Hope's pride and joy as well.
Excerpted from The Eleventh Commandment by LUTISHIA LOVELY Copyright © 2013 by Lutishia Lovely. Excerpted by permission of DAFINA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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